CAMEROON-UK: Goddy Leye and Florence Ayisi

This dialogue ran from 22 November – 31 December 2009, after which the artists & filmmakers were invited to discuss ideas for new work. The dialogues have now ended, but you can see and engage with the development of the selected proposals here.

Goddy Leye

Goddy Leye

Florence Ayisi

Florence Ayisi

Goddy Leye

We are very sad to hear that Goddy Leye passed away last night.

Proposal form

All our artists are invited to submit one or more proposals for new work, individually or collaboratively, by 1 April 2010. Please click here for the form:

iaa proposal form

what do YOU want (really)

back to basics – (I) what do YOU want to say? (II) how is your desire going to inhabit the language (medium) you intend to use?

Thank you…everyone.



Happy New year

Hi Florence,
Happy new year
I hope that in spite of the big cold, you manage to carry on with your activities that take plce most of the times in the open?
Here is hot and dusty but I wont complain about that
What worries me these days is the visa for China the process is lenghtier than I would imagine in my nightmares.
The entry visa has become of late the mos common obstacle to the movement of people. Goods travel better than men!
For those of us who need to travel constantly to do things. The visa only is eating up an amazing part of our work time!
This speaks alot about how we still perceive the Other, Globalisation notwithstanding!
I hope that this will change
Coming back to the women in your film, I work with Ruth Belinga and I know most of the women involved in contemporary arts in Cameroon
Artists here are not that many
Ruth is assistant curator at ArtBakery and also our research and documentation person.
I have to rush back to consular issues with the hope to be in Chine in the coming days
Take care,
PS: Happy new year again!

BLUE moon, New Ear

Hazem and all at IAA:

Cambridge BLUE moon, turning the last  pages of the 2009!

Issam Kourbaj

Issam Kourbaj

Issam Kourbaj

Issam Kourbaj

Wishing you many inspiring days in the coming year, and a very Happy New Ear (as my son. profoundly,  used to say!)


Russian Salad!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Throwing a handful of Russian salad over the net to you!

Taus Makhacheva

Let Us all end up face down in our own Russian salad tonight!

Happy new year/weaving/webs/net


When you feel everything is somehow connected and we are all joining a big net
life takes another meaning. This project is a big net that is full of significance also.
I love being part of this, and it is nice to read and get to know others process and thoughts.

I Wish you all a wonderful new year; truly great, full of adventures, joy, neverending curiosity for things to come, creativity, love and inner peace!

best wishes from Colombia


Happy New Year 2010 !

Best wishes for the coming new year !


Andro Semeiko

Transmitter_BASE2F, by Yu-Chen Wang and Andro Semeiko, 2009

Many questions and many answers

Hi Goddy,

It’s nice that you are back to the IAA scene. Also nice to hear about your lovely relationship with the kids & arts in Bonendale. Yes, if the children can learn to use the video camera, I am sure they will produce images of themselves that are ‘absent’ or ‘ missing’ – this would be a good start, and a chance for them to begin narrating themselves, their histories and so on.

 So where did you see the short Women Artists film? Do you know any of the artists featured in the film, and have you worked with any of them?

Mulema in my language means ‘Heart’ – I am from Mundemba, Ndian Division.

Have in nice day, and best wishes with all your art work

Bonendale o Mulema

Hi Florence,
Hope the sun is still lingering near in Wales
As a matter of fact, I was in Cardiff 20 years ago and I sent back images of myself on a sunny day wearing gloves and winter clothes. People over here could hardly understand that it would be that sunny and cold at the same time…
Famous bass  player Etienne Mbappe wrote a wonderful song “Bonendale O Mulema” which means “Bonendale my love”. Kids actually make this place wonderful. We have numerous projects with them, one being “Hollyday Workshop” that takes place in summer. And they love to create and play at creating…
Recently I shot a  music video with ten of them. Children are ArtBakery’s direct link to the community. My dream is to teach them more and more on how to use a video camera… That, will hopefully happen soon.
ArtBakery is based in Bonendale. And here live some ten visual artists and a couple of performing artists and musicians. We are actually building a community of artists on this side of Douala. Hope one day you will come here to shoot or to lead a workshop with the youths or with visual artists.
I stop here before the connection dies
Take care,

I like the curiosity of Kids

Hello Goddy, how are you?

I wanted to share a small experience I have whenever I get the privilege to film: Kids snoop around, they are keen to see what’s going on; they ask interesting questions; they pry, and they also watch!

How do you find the kids/children in Bonendale in relation to your artwork or when you are working? – Do you teach them? Do they come round the art bakery to snoop and ask questions? Tell me your experience about Children and making Art in Cameroon.

Here is a photo that I took when we were shooting in Cameroon.

I still live in the hope that we will have a proper dialogue before too long; hoping before the end of this brialliant initiative by IAA to connect us from ‘here’ and you ‘there’.

Are you preparing any artwork with festive themes, or maybe anything for the New Year? 

Ok, I hope to hear from you in due course,



What’s Cooking at your Art Bakery this weekend?

Hi Goddy,

I haven’t heard from you for a while. How is work at your art bakery? What’s happening this weekend? Masterclasses, Painting workshop, Web Design classes, sharing your Art with kids or teaching the children of Bonendale the importance of art in Community life? I hope that whatever you are engaged in, all is going well.

I am hoping you will sacrifice another 30 minutes away from home for the sake of our IAA conversations.

 Your  concept and initiative for the art bakery sounds great; Keep up the great work ‘there’ – the young ones around Bonendale and beyond are lucky to have the art bakery.

Have a good and productive weekend.



Between ‘here and ‘there’, somethings are the same!


Over ‘here’ in Cardiff, we’ve had sunshine since morning; a rare occurrence at this time of the year. It’s amazing how the weather sometimes affects our mood; On my way to work this morning, the traffic jam didn’t bother me as has been the case in the last couple of days. The beautiful orange glow of the sun shimmering through the ‘leafless’ trees just brought back memories of a stunning sunset I experienced when I was in the North of Cameroon. The Orange glow of the early morning sun 9as well as early evening) is similar, and the beauty and wonder of nature is the same…. (I am sharing with you, a photo I took near Rhumsiki.

I am still waiting to hear about where you saw the short version of my film, Women Artists in Cameroon, which I am still editing. Do you know all the nine (9) Women Artists in the film? Have you collaborated with any of the Women? I am curious to know!

I am also curious to know if you attended the 2008 Art and Culture festival (FENAC) in Maroua. It was a delight and a wonderful experience to be present at this festival. There was so much to see and do…One of the highlights for me was witnessing the FANTASIA; I have attached one of my favourite photos from the festival. I am looking forward to the next FENAC. I have been told that this will be held in Yaounde. Maybe I will see you there?

What are you working on at the moment – a Painting, making an Installation piece or making a Video?

Ok Goddy, I hope to get news from you soonest


Every Small Step is ‘Beautiful’

Hello Goddy,

 It’s good to hear from you.  The countless problems we encounter with the many things that we have come to rely on for our very existence today are just part of the challenges that we face in our modern World…

 It’s great that you were able to find an Internet café 30 minutes away from where you live so that we can continue with our dialogue; this is a great sacrifice that I appreciate.

 Whenever I finish researching or shooting a film, I always feel that I have been privileged to get to know the many amazing People who have very limited means. Most often what strikes me is how the People find creative and innovative ways to deal with the complex and often challenging situations that they find themselves in. Most often, it’s the very small steps that the women, in particular, make to first of all acknowledge what they are faced with, and secondly how they are able to act in whichever way they know best to find solutions despite the odds…

I have never stopped thinking about some of the Brave Women footballers that I met in Zanzibar when I was making my documentary film, ZANZIBAR SOCCER QUEENS; or the courageous women and children in SISTERS IN LAW who found clever ways to change their lives despite the knowledge that they could be ostracized or punished by their communities or relatives. Whenever I have been fortunate to be present at the screenings of my films, it’s always tremendously rewarding to see and hear how audiences respond to the very things that motivated me to tell and share the stories of the women in my films.

 People or audiences are always curious here and there, and I think that the mass media (here and there), especially TV News, feeds on this aspect. I am not sure if we can ever get away from the not so nice things, or misery that occur in Our World or societies on a daily basis; the media will always be attracted to bad or sad news because of their duty to inform and report. Unfortunately most media, particular TV news, has no time to delve into the complexity or the wider context of the sad & negative stories – it’s just the way we live today.

But the grand hope is that other forms of media and artists will continue to find ways to tell or communicate more than just headlines or the sensational issues so that viewers, readers, etc., can see beyond the headlines and so on.

How do you deal with some of these concerns in your work? 

It would be great to speak again ‘before the next Power cut’, rather than after; so I am waiting – I am a ‘Patient Woman’-





Hi Florence, sorry for keeping you waiting. You mentionnned the fact that boundaries are collapsing with the advancement of new technologies. Yes indeed, things are moving… fast. Here, however, that speed is yet to reach its peak as there are constant disturbances on the network. I am writing from a web-cafe, some thirty minutes away from home. In theory I am connected 24/7 to Internet. The reality is I keep ladies waiting.
Sorry again.
It is strange we were born the same year. But you went faster so much so that went you left the university, I was stepping in. And did study languages and literature. and in 1991 after completing m exams for the DEA (Diplome d’Etudes Approfondies) I left the campus to become a full time visual artist in 1992.
There has always been an urge to express myself and upon entering the university (the same University of Yaounde) I was thinking of becoming a journalist. That is why the Science student, in High School, finally enrolled for a Bilingual Degree. The political events in 1990 and 1991 all over French speaking Africa, gave ample prove that journalism as I envisaged it (investigation, reports…) was not possible here. Instead, I could express myself to the fullest through art (though the audience would be limited…)
that is how what was previously a hobby (a serious one) took over and I became an artist. I had been studying visual arts for 05 years with Doctor Pascal Kenfack (Art Historian and Artist).
You talked also about the need to contribute to a change of mind sets through a provision of diffenrent imageries than the traditional way Africa is portrayed. This has been a strong line in my video production reassessing the way I am portrayed in the media, as an African. But as I am made unhappy by the constant bombardment with images of starving Africa, kids with expensive arms… I am equally chocked by the way official media over here portray Africa. There is a feeling that even here people want to feed on misery and fail to show the beauties around. Mind you, I am not interested in reversed propaganda. I simply believe that we live in a complex world and this complexity needs to be shown, also about here, also here, also from here .
Today, inspite of the problems with the network and regular power cuts, I am here speaking to you.
take care and see you after the next power cut.

here is the photo

Florence Ayisi

Sunshine this morning!

I forgot to attach the picture of Appolonie. I have uploaded it on the media page.

This morning we have sunshine here in Wales; I am hoping it’s a good sign for a bright weekend. I like the autumn colours and I am planning to go for a long walk this weekend. My weekends are also when I make time to look at certain aspects of my doc practice work. If all goes well, I will review some footage we shot last weekend in London for a documentary film I am developing. I will also look at some submission deadlines for a few film festivals I am thinking of submitting my work.

Ok Goddy, I look forward to getting your news.



Hello from wet Wales

Greetings from Wales. How are you doing Goddy? What are you up to? We have had very wet and windy weather for the past couple of days here in Wales. In this kind of weather, I feel I have to make extra efforts to get out and do things, that is apart from going to work!

How is the weather in Douala?

I was wondering how and where you saw the short doc film that I made about the Women Artists in Cameroon? One of the artists lives and works in Douala; she’s called Appolonie. Do you know her? I wanted to take a wild guess that this is how you may have seen the film, but I will wait for you to tell me; I am always curious about how and where people see the work I do after it’s in the public domain. I have attached a photo of Appolonie with one of the pieces she exhibited at the National Museum.

The film is still at the work-in-progress stage. We are currently working slowly on the editing. I did a short (and rough cut) version of the film before I travelled to Cameroon last year; it’s about 10 minutes. I wanted the women to have an idea of what we shot, and what to expect when we  complete the editing; the film will be 50 minutes and it’s called Art of this Time, Art of this Place: Women Artists in Cameroon. As with my other doc films, I am planning to submit it to variety of film festivals.

It’s an interesting coincidence that within a space of one  year, I am working on 2 projects that are about Art and Culture in Cameroon. Last year December, I was in Maroua shooting a feature-length doc about FENAC 2008. This project is also in postproduction.

I have made a determined effort this evening despite the wind, cold and rain; going out to celebrate Thanks Giving with an American friend. So I must end here for now and continue when I get back, while hoping I will hear from you, soon.

Take care Goddy,


Warm greetings from Cold Wales,



Collapsing boundaries

Boundaries are collapsing! We can ‘now’ (as opposed to ‘then’) imagine ‘new’ communities emerging, people connecting and sharing through the myriad of communications platforms. One of the nice things about the many different means of communication nowadays is how fast artists are connecting with audiences who they may never get the privilege to meet. In a small way, this is how you may have heard about me, and also seen my work. And on a wider context, this is why and how we can have a dialogue instantly….

The very concept and initiative behind the dialogues of imagine art after would not be possible without this advancement in communication technology…we are connected, and today, I am able to see the works of other artists from Cameroon on the www.

Now, from my personal perspective as an African, and a woman filmmaker, new technology means democracy – the potential and possibilities of producing multiple voices and visions; of being part of telling is very crucial in terms of how I see myself. It’s through this new technology that I am able to cross the line to create images, rather than maintaining my previous position as consumer. Today, I too can tell the stories I want to tell.

Yes, I did leave Cameroon for the UK in 1986, to study cinema or the art of filmmaking; I did not see it like this at the point of leaving. All I knew was that I had a burning desire to tell stories, to share my vision with audiences…

You may remember that television arrived in Cameroon in 1985. This was a year before I graduated from my undergraduate degree course at the university of Yaoundé. I studied English; Literature, Drama & Theatre arts were some of the subjects I studied. The degree was the beginning of my journey of telling stories in film. Somehow, I ended up coming to the UK to learn how to do this.

During my early years in the UK, I was confronted with media images that gave me a one-sided and simplistic point of view of Africa and Africans. This experience merely justified my burning desire to find ways to express the ‘other’ realities and experiences that are magical, complex, beautiful and magnificent, which make up who we are. 

So, from this faraway land, with rivers and mountain separating me from the place where I was born, I am not able to witness the wonderful things, see the beautiful people and observe their fighting spirit as part of my daily routine.

The fact that I can capture, create and produce these omitted images is however not taken for granted; not everyone has the opportunity and access to the many different forms of new communications technology. And even when we have access to any of these, they may not work when we want to reach out and connect.

I am delighted you finally joined me. So what about you? I was very interested to see that you had a residency in London last year. I am interested to know more about that, and what it meant to you.

Here and there!

Hi Florence,
Great to start this conversation
I am sorry for keeping you waiting
Internet in Cameroon is to blame for that terrible situation
But in a way it also speaks of the position I am speaking from which naturally informs my stands: political, aesthetical, ethical…
I was curious when the results came out after the selection process as who would be the CAmeroonian artist living in the UK. I knew of one Ambiana who left Douala some ten years ago, to go to London. And nobody else. You don’t leave Cameroon to go and study arts in Europe, do you?
I actually heard of you not long ago and saw the movie you did on some female visual artists from Cameroon. So I am quite happy that the Imagine Art After managed to spot you and make this dialogue possible. I hope you will tell me how you ended in the field of visual arts and how you look at this wonderful country from the banks of the Thames.
Welcome on bord and let’s keep the imagination cruising.


Hello Goddy, How are you? I feel very privileged to be part of the iaa dialogues for 2009. I am also very pleased to be paired with someone with such a diverse creative portfolio. I am looking forward to not only our conversations, but the chance to understand certain aspects of our country through your art practice; from your ‘inside’ perspective.

I have just returned home (to Cardiff) from London this afternoon where I spent a couple of days planning work around my next documentary film project. What are you up to now? Are you working on a new project?

In this first conversation, I am not exactly sure how to begin or find an opening for our dialogues. Well, maybe this: I have been living in the UK for 23 years; my muse, or inspiration for what I do as a filmmaker comes from my agenda and desire to tell stories that are not part of the mainstream popular media; I am a gleaner of images and ideas that reflect some of our hidden stories, cultures and identities; through my documentary films I am finding ways to portray new and different images and stories that unravel alternative realities about who we are as Africans, and how we are seen by others in the global context; one of my challenges is how to manifest these stories in visual representations in ways that audiences, anywhere, can engage with.

In the past 3 years, I have been using photography, a lot, as a research tool in my film practice. It’s in the past year that I started to see that these pictures are more than just a research tool; the photos are documents of our stories in still pictures. Like my moving images (and sounds), I am attempting to discover, glean and preserve those aspects of our ordinary daily life that contribute to ‘painting’ a larger picture of who we are. Whenever I travel to Cameroon, I find ways to document the missing link and the ‘gap’ that exists between what I know of the reality that I left behind, and what is portrayed or absent here.

That ‘absent’ reality is what motivates me to tell the kinds of documentary stories that I tell.

I look forward to hearing from you. Florence


Welcome to imagine art after! Goddy, Florence, where are you now? What are you up to?